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Clause 233

Part of Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:15 am on 26th March 2009.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools) 9:15 am, 26th March 2009

Yes, I do, but the trouble is that people are not lawyers out there. Teachers are teachers, bursars are bursars and head teachers are head teachers. This way may look easier because we are spending a lot of time ploughing through the Bill clause by clause, but it is just one Bill among many to which teachers must have access. Guidance is recommended in most clauses of education Bills.

The reality is that teachers do not sit at their desks with neatly filed guidance connected to each provision in legislation. A poor lawyer, or even an average lawyer, might not spot this point. Indeed, a teacher might not even ask a lawyer; they will work out in advance what they can and cannot do. A barrack-room lawyer view might arise that if a serious incident occurs involving physical restraint of a child, the parent must be told, and a jobsworth view might well emanate that it is better to do so regardless of the consequences.

The hon. Lady might be right. The matter might be so serious that head teachers will be cognisant of the guidance because the consequences of not knowing about it are so tremendous. However, the worry is that that might not happen. We should be legislating to produce the best possible piece of legislation. As the matter is serious, I cannot understand why it is not being put into the Bill, just in case what I am saying is right. Given that I am not the only one—senior trade unionists are saying it too—I wish that she would think again. I leave her with this thought. Rather than pressing the amendment to a Division, I urge her to give the issue a little thought between now and Report and to come back on Report with a small amendment, which we will endeavour to give a swift journey on to the statute book. With that in mind, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.